The past two weeks I have been on a diet, which is incredibly hard when you love food so much. I sit reading post after post about cake, my mouth salivating over every sweet treat on my screen. And it’s probably not the best time to do it either, given that I am off to New York next week – a trip which has been planned for nearly two years and even has a Google Doc devoted to it containing a huge list of the restaurants and eateries I
want need to visit.
And while I am counting every calorie I am making sure that almost all of my baking makes its way to work – an appreciative office of hungry mouths never fails to clear the plate so I don’t have to worry my efforts are wasted. Even when you bring in pistachio cake for the second time (the first one I forgot to put in all the eggs and only put in four) – it still disappeared very quickly and only the crumbs were left.
I got the idea for pistachio cake from a trip to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield – it’s fantastic if you enjoy that sort of thing and I’d fully recommend you waste a few hours looking at all the great work not only from Barbara Hepworth but selected other artists too – modern and traditional. The pistachio cake there was good but I did find it a little odd that it had been coloured green!
So here is my version, topped with lemon honey baked flour buttercream. The buttercream is considerably less sweet because we’re not packing it with 500g icing sugar. The compromise however is that it is a little fragile, so you’re going to want to use it as soon as you’ve made it. The cake itself has a slightly earthy quality from the nuts but the lemon in the cake really freshens the whole thing up.
Instead of using butter, I’ve been trying out Mrs Middleton’s Cold-Pressed Rapeseed Oil which she kindly sent me ages ago. I have been using it for all sorts of purposes like making shallot oil but nothing particularly blogworthy, and I felt it was due a decent mention. Cold-pressed rapeseed oil contains around half the saturated fats of olive oil and is naturally rich in omegas 3, 6 & 9 and anti-oxidants and has about the same amount of calories as olive oil. It was super easy to make this cake with compared to butter and gave me a nice smooth cake batter.
For the cake
- 120g shelled pistachios
- 270g plain flour
- ½tsp salt
- 4tsp baking powder
- 2tsp cornflour
- 8 large eggs
- 225g (approx 275ml) Mrs Middleton’s Cold-Pressed Rapeseed Oil
- 225g caster sugar
For the lemon honey buttercream
Adapted from In Michelle’s Kitchen
- 50g plain flour
- 220g milk
- 130g caster sugar
- 130g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2tbsp honey
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract (you may need more but I used Steenberg’s and it’s quite strong)
- If you are making the buttercream: In a small saucepan, gently heat the flour and milk until it forms a thick paste, ensuring it is smooth my stirring constantly. Remove from pan and leave to cool completely.
- Grease and line three 8-inch/20cm cake tins. Preheat oven to 170°C/340°F/Gas Mark 3.
- In a food processor, finely process the pistachios. (I found my pistachios needs sieving after this because they we clumped together).
- Sieve the salt, cornflour, flour and baking powder together twice then stir in the ground pistachios and mix well.
- Mix together the oil, eggs and sugar on a medium speed until the mixture becomes paler and frothy (about 8-10 mins).
- Add the flour mix and turn the mixer on for about 8-10 seconds to do most of the mixing work, then gently finish the mixture off by folding by hand.
- Evenly distribute the mixture between the three cake tins. Bake for 20 mins but check after 16 mins – they are done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove from tins and leave to cool completely.
- In the mixer, cream the butter and sugar for buttercream until fluffy, add the honey and lemon essence then add the flour paste. Mix for 6-8 minutes until smooth.
- Frost the cake by evenly distributing the buttercream over the three layers and sandwiching them together.